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Life in Your 20s: 10 Reasons Why There’s No Need To Panic

Your 20s can be difficult. But you’re not alone.

Image by atk work on Shutterstock

As many Gen Z adults begin their 20s, feelings of doubt, panic, and loneliness will inevitably start to appear. Whether you’re coming to the end of university, just starting, entering work, or still figuring things out, this decade can be difficult for everyone. Here are some things to remember as you enter your next life stage.

1. The future will seem vast

Feeling directionless is nothing to fear. Symptoms of anxiety may be more common when thinking about your future. Just know that you don’t have to have everything figured out right away. Everyone is at different stages. Some will know the exact career they want to pursue; others will just be starting their search. If that’s you, that’s okay! It’s better to have a solid basis and passion for where you’re heading than to rush into it.

2. It’s okay if you don’t want to drink

Drinking culture in your 20s may seem inescapable. Whether that’s partying with your peers at university or a night out with your friends back home, you’ll inevitably be confronted with a drink. But if that’s not for you, don’t panic! Many students and young adults aren’t enticed by alcohol and prefer to stay sober on a night out. In 2017, 20% of the UK population reported not drinking at all, and overall consumption has fallen by around 16% since 2004. With alcohol consumption ever decreasing and more mocktail drinks becoming available at bars and clubs, it’s easier than ever to stay sober.

3. You’re going to feel lonelier

Staying in university dorms, living alone, or moving away, your 20s are a time when you’ll become unavoidably lonelier. As everyone starts to take different paths in life, growing apart is natural. But even though you’re lonelier, you’re not alone. Every adult will have these feelings; sometimes, it can be nice to bond with new people over missed friends and family.

4. You’ll start to heal from trauma and take your mental health seriously

By the time you’re 25, your brain will have fully developed. Our prefrontal cortex stops developing and marks the end of our adolescence. This is important as this part of the brain is primarily responsible for decision-making and risk management. Read about it more in Elena Carruthers’ recent article. With this in mind, it may be the case that you’ll experience more ‘light-bulb’ moments as you approach 25. This can mean revisiting trauma, healing wounds, and thinking more about your health. It’s most likely why some young adults decide to go to therapy in an attempt at self-improvement. So if you find yourself revisiting the past, know it’s all part of growing up.

5. You’ll compare yourself to everyone

With everyone entering different stages of their lives in their 20s, comparing yourself to others becomes inevitable. Some may be going to university, some may be getting engaged, others are married, and some maybe even starting a family. Whatever point you’re at, it’s important to understand that everyone has different plans and goals. The things you’ve achieved at age 20 might be just as impressive as that girl on Instagram who seems to have it all. It’s all about perspective.

6. There will be high highs and low lows

Some days will be fantastic. Everyone loves to end their day feeling accomplished because they’ve been productive, social, or successful. But what about those days when it seems like you’re getting nowhere? Or sitting at your desk all day doing what appears to be the same old? Not every day will be monumental. Remember to keep working towards your dreams. Progress is just as significant as perseverance.

7. Stop caring so much about what others think

Being hyperaware of what others think about you and your progress is something nearly all young people will experience at some point, especially those with anxiety. It’s important to remember that people’s opinions of you are a projection of themselves. If someone feels insecure about a lack of achievements in their life, they’ll likely pick faults with yours to make themselves feel better. It takes a strong person to brush off these comments, but an informed one knows they’re projecting. Assure yourself that progress looks different to everyone, and the only opinion of yourself you should be worried about is your own.

8. Do not doubt yourself

Confidence is key. Any situation where you’re attempting to climb ladders, make connections, or present good first impressions is an opportunity to showcase your best self. Believing that you’re worthy of that job, that relationship and that you can make that move, you can do it. The phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ has never rung truer.

9. Rejection is redirection

Rejection can come in many ruthless forms, from job interviews to university applications and mortgages. Many users online have shared their stories of redirection and where they ended up. Having certain plans you want to follow is fantastic, though they may not always work out the way you had hoped they would. That’s okay! The universe has other plans for you. Try not to get stuck in a rut of unhappiness; instead, adapt your dreams and take a different route to reach your goals. Everything will work out as it was meant to in the end.

10. Don’t panic and don’t rush

Above all, you’ll no doubt be told that your 20s will be some of the best years of your life. And it’s true! You’ll meet new people, encounter new opportunities, travel to new places, and make future plans. This decade is truly a time for growing up and exploring the world. Don’t feel pressured to do everything and go everywhere, but make sure you enjoy these years while they’re here. Release some of the pressure and treasure this precious time.

Written By

Melissa Rumbold is a 3rd year student at Durham University.

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